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Ladies of renown




I asked a friend to define a woman. She first remarked that a woman is priceless. Then, she put a meaning to each letter that spells the word “woman”: W means “wonderful mother,” O refers to “outstanding friend,” M is short for “marvelous daughter,” A is simply for “adorable sister,” but above all these, N stands for “nicest gift of God to men.” So, one wonders what in turn is the gift of men to women.

Women continue to play important and influential roles in both government and private sectors in this country. There are no more exclusive “for men only” turfs. Two women, Cory Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, have served as presidents. Arroyo was vice president who succeeded the deposed president. And now, we have one who won despite running against a formidable and well-entrenched politician.  You see women in the Senate and the lower House, as Cabinet secretaries and as justices no less. You see more women battling Covid-19 — whether they be nurses or doctors. As frontliners, they save lives, indeed heroines in these challenging and scary times.

The private sector is full of competent women CEOs. They are no longer mere Rotary Anns, they are now District Governors.

Women have survived longer than men. There are more widows than widowers. In the home, most households are ruled by women. Even if you hear wives talk about deferring to their husband, as though leaving to the head of the family to decide, the truth is that mothers and wives have the final say.

MYRNA YAO is a micro entrepreneur turned tycoon.  The president and CEO of Richwell Trading Corporation, she leads in the distribution and retail of branded consumer goods. She brings in Barbie dolls to the country. She heads Richprime Global Inc, where she leads 1,400 employees. She was chairperson of the Philippine Commission of Women and, during her term, she spearheaded efforts in ensuring that the Magna Carta Law of Women would be passed.

MARIA ROSARIO “CHARO” SANTOS–CONCIO is one of the most accomplished Filipino women of her generation. An actor, producer and television executive. She is the host of Maalaala Mo Kaya, the longest-running television drama anthology in Asia. Charo was appointed as the fifth president of ABS-CBN, the first woman president of the media conglomerate and the Lopez Group of Companies. She is currently the chief content officer of ABS-CBN Corporation and the president of ABS-CBN University.

NINGNING DE OCAMPO graduated with magna cum laude honors in BS Foods and Nutrition at the College of the Holy Spirit. After her Master’s studies at the University of the Philippines, she became better half to Benjamin de Ocampo who owns the popular Exclusively His tailor shop. Ningning supplies imported items to Manila boutiques. She is also in the jewelry business, which she inherited from her mother. She  has also been active in the financing and currency trading business.

MARIA LOURDES “MALU” SANTOS is chief operating officer of Star Creatives, a division of ABS-CBN Corporation. A graduate of Hotel and Restaurant Management, Malu started a career in sales, then moved on to banking but eventually gave in to her “first love,” the movies. She worked her way from production assistant to production manager with Regal Films. She then transferred to ABS-CBN to head its film division, Star Cinema.

SUSAN AFAN worked for 30 years in the United States for a Fortune 500 global staffing firm, and then returned to the Philippines in 2014. She has since worked with one of the largest and most respected non-profit institutions in the country. She is now devoting the rest of her professional career to “Greatness of Spirit” and transformational leadership in Asia. Susan is the president of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation. She is a member of the board of trustees and managing director of ABS-CBN Foundation.

URSULA “CHIT” LIJUACO is a journalist with more than 30 years of experience. She is the managing editor of Philippine Tatler. An editor’s editor who prefers to work in the background, she has had years in both the worlds of hard and soft news. Chit graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts from Maryknoll College. Outside of writing, editing and managing a magazine, she is deeply involved in her chosen service organization, Rotary International.

CELESTE ILAGAN is director of the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc. (PAMURI). She is also SVP for Global Marketing, Corporate Communications and External Affairs for SPi Global, a leader in content technology and content solutions.. Prior to joining the BPO industry in 2010, Celeste was executive director of Investments Promotion at the Board of Investments where she organized  and led numerous business promotion missions abroad.

TEH OPINION is the president and CEO of bneXt, a solutions and service provider specializing in enterprise digital transformation. Teh joined the Nexus Group Incorporated in April 2018 and became part of the expanding roster of the Nexus Group of Companies that includes IT training center Edupro, enterprise business software developer Jupiter Systems, reseller Internet and Subic Nexus and Hybrid Cloud Services provider Info Fabrica-Nexus.

ISABELITA IEISA PAREDES MERCADO is a dynamic, self-made entrepreneur who is engaged in designing and executing solutions that create customer value. A double-degree graduate from the University of Santo Tomas, she is the chairperson and chief executive officer of IPM Holdings Inc., IPM Construction and Development Corporation and Basic Environmental System and Technologies Inc. — altogether employing 6,500 people with a projected net income of over P60 million. She is the president of the Solid Waste Contractors Association of the Philippines. A recipient of last year’s Asia CEO Awards and the Circle of Excellence BizNewsAsia award, Eisa has an outstanding 30-year track record in construction, property development and waste management techniques.